The National Costume of the Republic of Maribojoc, Bohol
Tourists will find few places, here or abroad, which can compare with Maribojoc, Bohol when it comes to old town charm.
There is so much to love about this place which is a short drive from Tagbilaran. Just like its centuries-old National Treasure Church, the Punta Cruz Tower, and the Town Plaza – Maribojoc seems to have frozen in time. Leave the place and come back twenty years later and you feel as if you just went out to pee. It is eerie. I do not mean the lack of development because there are plenty. And there are new, modern, and mostly Mediterranean houses every ten meters or so. But these are new garnishing to an old recipe. Or new accessories to exactly the same dress.
The people are lovely and so friendly they feel bad if you forget their names. “hambog na jud, di na jud managad!” And you don’t want to hear that so you have to smile as if you know everyone because, well, everyone knows you. Or at least everyone knows your mother. And oftentimes, your father was his father’s classmate in St. Vincent Institute. Or they played basketball together at the Maribojoc Christmas Basketball League of 1968 or something. Or perhaps, your mother was seated beside his father during the wedding of an aunt. There is no such thing as six degrees of separation in this town. You, whether you are a balikbayan or a stranger coming to town, are one degree separated from everyone else. And these are multiple connections. “Doble man ta pagka-igagaw – sa Barnido nga side, ug sa Escabarte pa jud.” Then you wonder, wow, we are relatives twice?
The locals are proud of their patron saint, St. Vincent Ferrer. The saint welcomes everyone, sinners and saints, healthy and sick alike. Miracles of healing and forgiveness (I can truthfully attest) are attributed to this saint. I used to laugh when my mother would insist that we should go home “kay basin masuko ang santo”. And no, “lahi jud ang San Vicente sa Maribojoc kaysa San Vicente diha sa Manila.” But perhaps she was right. It is not just the statue, it is the deposit of faith that the people left on its altar.
But what I like the most about Maribojoc is that it is very literal! You don’t have any difficulty understanding the place or the people; you just need to pay attention as all things are expressed in descriptive words.
What is the name of the Spanish Steps at the back of the church? Hagdan Hagdan. The place where boats dock? Pantalan. Syempre. And the farthest end of Pantalan? Tumoy. Of course.
“Asa mu diay Nic?”
“Adto sa Tumoy!”
And everyone assumes she is going to the farthest end of the wharf. In Maribojoc, dili mo maligo sa dagat, moambak mo sa Tumoy.
Most of our relatives live in a community under coconut trees, so what they do call us: taga Kalubihan. Unsa pa man diay? Kanang kalsada nga imong sudlon from market to municipal hall? Guess what, it is called SUDLON. Ang problema lang wala jud lugar gitawag ug GAWASAN.
But, no need to worry, they don’t really cite house numbers and streets as addresses. Asa gapuyo sila Jingjing Redulla? Likod sa Merkado. Si Nang Lilang? Duol sa sementeryo. Si Iya Taling? Dapit sa Kapilya. Si Nang Julia? Likod sa Porlon. Si Nang Ponsa? Atbang sa Tiketan. Si Arnie Turco? Likod ni Nang Ponsa. You live near a long bridge? You are called taga TAYTAYAN TAAS. I don’t think gitapulan sila ug pangitag laing pangalan.
What they do they call the Municipal Health Center? It is called — tarannn – Center.
Asa mo paingon?
Adto mi sa Center, magpa ibot ug ngipon. Ug magdungan jud sila ug adto.
And it has its own quirkiness. I remember Nang Oliva wearing red in full silence ahead of a funeral procession because she was trying to stop a series of deaths. When Manong Serapion Varon (the town photographer) was lost in the middle of the night, and the whole town looked for him and found him inside a mangrove forest apparently possessed by the spirits. Nong Moises Descallar kissed his Carmel scapular and Nong Serapion regained his senses. The next day, everyone bought a scapular. People are known to threaten the spirits with “usa ka bukag nga tujom” if a relative is sick because of the “di ingon nato”. As to why supernatural beings are afraid of a basket of sea urchins, you need to ask Titi Taning.
Before OMG became a fad, Maribocjanons have something unique to when surprised. They don’t exclaim Oh My God!. They say, “Mga Kalag sa Agmunan.” As to who are the spirits and where Agmunan is? Nobody seems to know.
The place is so small that everyone knows each other’s business. When I was small, it was so easy to buy things. I didn’t need to say anything, store owners knew what I would buy and how much money I had. I don’t know why. When I showed up at the Fernandez Pharmacy, Manang Nene would stand up without a word, get the medicine I needed for my father and prepare change for five pesos before I reach the counter. Nanay Pepang in the market would hand me two eggs and four tableya without asking a question. And those times when I said only one egg, she would insist that I was wrong. The tinderas of Kwan Yut knew how much pandesal I would buy. There was one time I changed my mind and bought Pan de Leche instead, the saleslady looked shock and offended. Was something wrong with the pandesal, she asked. Shopping was never this convenient.
In Maribojoc, we don’t have use for irony, metaphor and simile. We will call a spade a spade.
“Kinsa tong niagi Nay?”
“Si Melencio nga kawatan ug manok.”
A spade is a spade.
It was very easy to identify people:
Si Nang Mesyang manghihilot; Si Kwan Yut Bakery, si Five Brothers (they have names honest, but we call them si Five Brothers).
There are names that defy logic: Totong Ok-ok, Nonoy Bunot, si Yoyat.
I can quite get the Dodong Tapi, Boy Bun-og, but Piling Imbaw is hard to decipher.
And the old folks are so helpful if you are kinda slow.
“Kinsa gud to?”
“Unsa man na sja uy. Si Anhing Tiya Aurea bitaw to nga dakog tijan nga wa magminjo”
Or si Regina gud nga naninda ug ginamos sa una.
No place is as literal as Maribojoc. And in a country where people make patutsada, paparinig, you miss this kind of “literalness”.
I hope you visit there sometimes. Look for Barnido Street. People will tell you where it is — kanang kalsada paingon sa menteryo.
And here they are in action:
Maribojhanons are pretty good in Posing, like this is a typical pose of right foot forward angled 45 degrees, hands on your hips, bend your neck to the left and smile without opening your mouth.
But if you have a hat, you may not bend your head, but retain the hands on your hips – even if there someone beside you doing the same. Sa mas kusgan lang.